In observance of this year’s Women’s Month, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) XI conducted a forum that was directed toward raising awareness and promoting compliance with the Safe Spaces Act (Bawal Bastos Law) and sustaining gender equality in the workplace on March 17, 2023, at the Pinnacle Hotel and Suites, Davao City. The forum was attended by a total of 75 representatives from the Regional Tripartite Industry Peace Council (RTIPC), HR practitioners from private establishments, and women from various sectors.
The Safe Spaces Act, also known as Republic Act No. 11313, is a law that aims to prevent and penalize gender-based sexual harassment in public spaces, online, and in the workplace. It provides a comprehensive framework for addressing various forms of gender-based sexual harassment, including verbal, non-verbal, and physical acts that create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for the victim.
During the forum, the resource speaker, Atty. Niceforo V. Solis, Jr., HR Director of the Ateneo de Davao University, highlighted the significance of promoting safe and respectful workplaces, schools, and public spaces. He accentuated that the Safe Spaces Act is not only a legal condition but also, a moral obligation to create an environment free from all forms of gender-based harassment.
The forum also emphasized the importance of upholding gender equality in the workplace and drew attention to the benefits of having a diverse and inclusive workforce. Some participants discussed the challenges and barriers that women face in the workplace and imparted their best practices on how to promote gender equality, such as implementing gender-responsive policies, providing equal pay for equal work, and ensuring that women have equal access to training and development opportunities.
In his message, DOLE XI Regional Director Atty. Randolf C. Pensoy encouraged all employers to comply with the Safe Spaces Act, provide safe working environments for their employees, and continue to build and sustain gender equality. He also advised workers to report any incidents of harassment or discrimination in the workplace and assured them that the Office would take swift action against violators of the law.
The forum finished off with a call to action for all stakeholders to work together to foster safe spaces, prevent gender-based harassment, and promote social equality for women. Meanwhile, DOLE XI committed to continuing its efforts to raise awareness and provide technical assistance to employers and workers to ensure the promotion of gender equality and protection of women’s rights in the workplace.